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Law Alert: Essex Ontario

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Posted by: EricWI at Fri Jul 13 16:48:05 2012  [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by EricWI ]  
   

Anxiety grows over exotic animals
Essex councillor seeks bylaw

ESSEX, Ont. — The 16-foot, 130-pound albino python living at Bella's Exotic Pets store has done more than scare shoppers with its length and strength. It jolted a town councillor into drafting a bylaw to regulate exotic species.

Crickets chirp and frogs croak as shoppers enter the month-old pet store on Centre Street.

Half of the display aquariums are empty awaiting salt and freshwater fish. The other half of the former convenience store contains an array of frogs, geckos, lizards, a tarantula, scorpion and snakes.

Store owner Krista Mason says council shouldn't worry. The anxiety over the pets she sells comes from a lack of education about reptiles, she said.

"Most of our snake breeding will go to wholesalers," she said. One of her Burmese pythons wasn't at the store Thursday as she was sent to mate. If she lays about 40 eggs, the store will keep one or two for sale and sell the rest to a reptile dealer.

Mason said she doesn't believe a pet owner will release their exotic pet into the wild if caring for it becomes too difficult because they spent money on the pet. And even if they were set free, they'd die fairly quickly because they can't survive outdoors in a northern climate. The reptiles need a humid, 30 C environment, Mason said. She doesn't object to snake owners registering the pets with the town so that the fire department knows where exotic species live.

"We are going to have a training session for the fire department," she said so firefighters are aware of what is in the store in case they need to respond to an emergency.

Coun. Sherry Bondy is drafting an exotic species bylaw but admits a ban doesn't have support from the rest of council. Her concern centres on the Burmese pythons and the green iguana, which can grow up to eight feet long. Full-grown pythons can range in length from 13 to 18 feet.

"We have to talk about whether we are going to let this pet shop sell these animals and do we need to license them," Bondy said. "Some of the pets in there can get very big and people get scared of them and dump them."

If she can't get certain species banned from the town, there should at least be a law requiring owners to register the exotic pets, Bondy said. Windsor and Amherstburg don't allow pets within municipal limits that aren't native to Canada.

Wildlife biologist Steve Marks said there are a large number of reptiles, especially if bred in captivity, that make excellent pets. A suitable pet is one that doesn't grow too big and is easy to maintain.

He said that while Burmese pythons can be calm, they get too big for the average pet owner. The ideal exotic pet bylaw is one that restricts species that get too big.

"The most important thing is to keep the animal healthy and secure," he said. "Animals can be unpredictable."

Mason has no exotic pets at home, only two cats and a dog with her children because she lives in Amherstburg and reptiles aren't allowed.

The Windsor/Essex County Humane Society has received a few phone calls of concern about the exotic pet store, said Melanie Coulter, executive director.

"We are planning to do an inspection," Coulter said. "The inspector is trying to connect with an expert on exotic pets."

mwolfson@windsorstar.com or 519-255-5709 or Twitter.com/WinStarMonica
www.windsorstar.com/news/Anxiety grows over exotic animals/6927472/story.html


   

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